Tag:

Pyrenees

  • During a quick getaway for a day of skiing in the Pyrénées, my friend suggested that rather than head to Ax 3 Domaines in Ax-les-Thermes, we go a bit further toward a small station called Ascou. I had never heard of Ascou, but I was game to try something different. Ax-les-Thermes in the Ariège Departement is home to Ax 3 Domaines, a large ski station that is one of my favorites in the Pyrénées. But as we entered Ax on this Saturday morning in January, we could see that the streets were already clogged with cars and people renting skis…

  • Béarn is a one of those French names that has leapt into our view now and then without me ever having a clear idea of where it is or what it signifies. Sometimes it appears to be linked to Gascony and the Pyrénées but other times it’s described as its own distinct region. While the real D’Artagnon is the most famous Gascon of all, his fictionalized namesake in “The Three Musketeers” was from Béarn. It’s hard to nail down. Even doing a little research on the website for the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the department where Béarn is located, left me confused. On…

  • France’s Occitanie region is stuffed with visual and architectural delights. But the region highlights a select number of these gems with the label “Grands Sites.” During our winter holiday in Cauterets we had the chance to explore one of the more majestic ones on that list: Pont d’Espagne. Located at about 1,493 meters up, the Pont d’Espagne was once upon a time a trading route between France and Spain. Located in the Pyrénées National Park in the Hautes Pyrénées Departement, the valley now is pastoral wonderland in the summer that leads to Lake Gaube. But in the winter, it’s another…

  • After a slow start, the snow has hit the Pyréneés with a vengance. And with more than 4 meters of snowfall, Le Cirque du Lys in Cauterets has the most snow of any station in France. Ski season can be short, and temperatures are already projected to start rising in the coming weeks. So best go now, if you can. For a last-minute getaway to Cauterets, here’s a few tips. Snow Skiing You can reach Le Cirque du Lys with a 12-minute gondolan ride from Cauterets. The summit offers a wide panoramic view. And its altitude makes it one of…

  • The snow has returned to the Pyrénées, much to the relief of tourists and the tourist industry alike. And so if you’re looking for quick getaway for the family to play in the white stuff, Val D’Azun is a great place to start. We made the long and windy drive from Toulouse up to the Station Val D’Azun. One passes through the town of Argelès-Gazost in the Hautes-Pyrénées Department before climbing the last few kilometers. But once there, we discovered a sweet, family-oriented station that offers three distinct experiences: Cross-country skiing (or “Nordique”) Snow shoe trails (“Raquettes”) Nordic Park, a…

  • With last-minute getaways, sometimes you just get lucky. That was certainly the case for us when we left the Thursday after Christmas for a two-day escape to the Pyrénées. With no firm destination in mind, other than to just be in the mountains and away from work, our frenzied internet searches stumbled upon La Soulan, a gite and restaurant located just up the hill from the town of Boutx. Snow in the Pyrénées during winter vacances can be hit or miss, and this year it was definitely a miss. But instead, we found spectacular food at La Soulan and a…

  • With busy work schedules and kids’ activities, we had a hard time this year planning a weekend escape to the Pyrénées. Which was especially a bummer because the region was getting more snow than it had in several years. But we finally managed to pull it off, and decided to head to one our favorite regions, the valley that leads to Loudenvielle. We stayed near Loudenvielle for our first trip up here in 2014. So this time we decided to make camp in a different town situated just to the west: Aulon. From the highway, the drive took us up…

  • During our latest trip to the Pyrénées, I took the kids skiing for a day at Saint-Lary-Soulan. Having skied for many years in California’s Lake Tahoe area, one of the nice things about the Pyrénées is that the cost of lift tickets and equipment rental is much more reasonable. For instance, an adult lift ticket is about $50. On our way from Aulon to Saint Lary, we stopped at Kangri Sports to rent skis and boots for the kids for about $30 for the day. Saint-Lary-Soulan is a solid, medium-sized station with 100 km of slopes and thirty ski lifts. We had beautiful…

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